Posted by: atowhee | December 6, 2016

TWO SPECIES–FIRST OF SEASON

I also saw my first Varied Thrush of the season today.  He was calling at Wennerberg Park, Carlton. I think they’ve been pushed down into the Willamette Valley by the low snow level in the mountains along both sides of the lowlands.  Here are two shots looking west from Carlton toward the Coastal Range. Looks like snow level was below 1000 feet this morning.  Valley temps here didn’t hit 40 until mid-day.mtn-snow1mtn-snow2

Along Shelton Road, west of Westside Road (north of McMinnville) I came across a flock of pipits in the single short grass pasture just before pavement turns due north.  They were there last fall as well.  These pipits were hard to track in the grass, weak images follow:ampi-runzampi-runz2

Shelton Road, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Dec 6, 2016 10:15 AM – 10:25 AM.  5 species

California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  3
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  10
American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)  40
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  40
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  X

Wennerberg Park, Carlton, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Dec 6, 2016 10:35 AM – 11:05 AM.  6 species

California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  6
Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  40
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1

Posted by: atowhee | December 6, 2016

ALMOST SEVENTY YEARS

Since the Everglades National Park was created.

I guess we will find out if a President can de-c0mmission a National Park or promote oil and gas drilling inside the same.  Make America Polluted Again?

Posted by: atowhee | December 6, 2016

RISE IN HOLIDAY CRIME? MISSING SOME LIGHT BULBS?

Check your neighbors, the little ones.

Posted by: atowhee | December 6, 2016

BIRD COLONY VS. THE SECURITY STATE?

Remember that nesting bird colony that was abandoned in Florida suddenly…last spring?  Well, here’s summary of what we know and don’t know…and it ain’t natural.

Posted by: atowhee | December 5, 2016

BASKETT SNOUGH [sno]

With two birding friends from Ashland I went to Baskett Slough in the snough [sno] this morning.  Large, wet flakes were falling straight down from the colder air far above us. One of our first sights was a Peregrine driving a Harrier from the field.

The numerous dabbling ducks had no concern for the weather.  Pintails were lazily ambling across the road as the wintry storm had reduced car traffic to almost zero.pint-road1pint-road2These ducks are not only elegant, but the blue racing stripe down the length of each beak qualifies as tres chic,  clearly there’s an Italian designer somewhere in their evolutionary past.pint-podd

Overlooking the duckscape was this three-year old, already an adept assassin:be-3yr

NUTRIA NUTRITION

Right near the car was character, nibbling grass for brunch and ignoring our closeness:nutria-anutria-bNoting his diet, I can’t help borrowing some gutter slang from another realm: his ass is grass.  If keep talking like this I could maybe run for President.nutria-cDoes all that wet wool get itchy?  He wouldn’t say.nutria-dnutriaface

Here’s what the Oregon Encyclopedia tells us about these guys: “Nutria, a large, semi-aquatic rodent native to South America, were brought to the United States for their fur in the 1880s. They were introduced to Oregon in the 1930s. Farming nutria fur was marketed as a quick and easy way to make money. When the nutria fur market collapsed in the late 1940s, however, thousands of nutria were released. Because of their prolific and mobile nature, the population quickly spread throughout western Oregon.”

This all sounds so familiar.  During World War 2 we brought Mexicans north to work on railroads and farms, then kicked them back across the border.  We  brought nutria and red foxes into areas where they had never been, so somebody could make money from killing them for fur, then we blame them for surviving in the wild.  Eucalyptus, broom plants, Pampas grass, buddleia, English and German ivy, pythons in Florida, Rock Doves…we humans heedlessly bring organisms into new environments and then grumble when they become as weedy and over-populated as rats or humans.

Anyway the nutria is far more attractive and interesting than the fur farmers who brought his ancestors here in the first place.  And  I suspect he does far less damage to the environment than a lot of humans and corporations we can name.

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Dec 5, 2016 10:10 AM – 10:40 AM
Comments:     snowing.  16 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  X
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Gadwall (Anas strepera)  X
American Wigeon (Anas americana)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  X
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  X
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  1
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
American Coot (Fulica americana)  X
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  2
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X

Posted by: atowhee | December 2, 2016

CALIFORNIA’S FOREST DIE-OFF CONTINUES

The number of trees recently dead in California equals the human population of Sacramento.

Drought, disease, disaster.  Bad news for forest birds: White-headed Woodpecker, nuthatches, Brown Creeper, Hermit Warbler…

Posted by: atowhee | November 30, 2016

BIRDING KLAMATH IN LATE FALL

A pair of birders had contacted me and other OBOLers some weeks ago about birding either Malheur or Klamath over Thanksgiving weekend…I opined there was a single choice: Klamath if you INCLUDED Butte Valley raptor run:  they did.  Click here to see link to some of their better photos.

Stats for the Butte Valley raptor run:

Northern Harrier: 7
Bald Eagle: 8 (adults)
Golden Eagle: 1
Rough-legged Hawk: 3
Ferruginous Hawk: 21
Red-tailed Hawk: 75
American Kestrel: 15
Prairie Falcon: 1
Peregrine Falcon: 1
Oak Titmouse: 1 (not really a raptor, but a lifer for both of us 😊)

After reading their report, here’s my reply “so glad you did Butte Valley, only ‘we locals’ really know that area but it is so rich in wintering raptors…I have had some of my best birding days just driving those farm roads south of Dorris but then I’m a sucker for Golden Eagles and it is the richest spot I know for Ferruginous…maybe parts of Colorado are as good…”

Looking at good images of Ferruginous you see why it is Buteo regalis, a royal looking bird indeed.

For Oregon birders heading south, Butte Valley is in Siskiyou County, CA.

Posted by: atowhee | November 28, 2016

NESKOWINNERS

No wild bird is a loser, but some are winners.  Today I had some winter winners in a brief visit to Neskowin with some tolerant non-birders.  Red Phalarope, most on the golf course turned into a season slough, two others at mouth of Neskowin Creek.  The Bonaparte’s Gulls were all at the golf course along Hawk Road parallel to Hawk Creek.

Surfbirds and Black Turnstones were on base of Proposal Rock on side facing the mainland.

Neskowin Area, Tillamook, Oregon, US
Nov 28, 2016 1:30 PM – 2:15 PM.  19 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  20
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  40
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  15
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  5
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  3
Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)  1
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  1
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)  1     overlooking Neskowin Gold Course
Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala)  10
Surfbird (Calidris virgata)  2
Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius)  20     two at mouth of Neskowin Creek, the rest over flooded golf course
Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)  6
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)  X
California Gull (Larus californicus)  X
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  X
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  20
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  1

Posted by: atowhee | November 27, 2016

NON-VIOLENT ATTACK

This morning I heard, then saw a circling Crow cawing loudly.  It was calling in four-four time, and every few measures it would stop for a vocal rest.  The whole time it was circling in flight.  No other Crow answered the caw.

The target was a circling Cooper’s Hawk. A dozen times the Crow dived down at the hawk, never once coming within two feet of the raptor’s unprotected back. Unhurt the Coop finally spiraled off to the northeast left the territory the Crow had designated as its very own.  A basketball cliche applies: “no harm, no foul”…no harm, two fowl.

McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Nov 27, 2016 10:45 AM
Protocol: Incidental
13 species

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  X
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  7
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  20–all around one very fruity hawthorn
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  15
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  10

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Nov 27, 2016 7:30 AM.  10 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  20
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | November 26, 2016

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